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Thread: Introduction- My new doggie has Cushing's :-(

  1. #1
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    Default Introduction- My new doggie has Cushing's :-(

    I saw this dog on petfinder.com. He was at a kill shelter, and the volunteer working there put the word out about my dog. He was sick with heartworms. They were also very up front about the dog having Cushing's Disease. I could not let that dog go to a kill shelter! I decided to adopt the dog regardless. I finally got the dog, and he is so sweet and I love him to pieces. I haven't been able to find coherent information about Cushing's in dogs on one website. Today, I became very frustrated when searching and came across your site. I hope to be able to learn about my dog and how to take care of him and make sure he has everything he needs to be comfortable, healthy, and happy.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Introduction- My new doggie has Cushing's :-(

    Hi and welcome to you and your sweet doggy!

    First off - bless you, bless you, bless you for saving this baby! Most people would have turned their backs and left his to his fate....and in any shelter that would not have been a good future at all. So you are a true angel and your new baby is so very lucky you came along.

    Now, we will do everything we can to help you make his life the best possible. One of the most important things I can tell you is this - Cushing's is RARELY a death sentence; most cush pups live out their normal life spans and beyond because they have caring, attentive parents like you who make sure everything possible is done for them. So if you have read anything to the contrary - forget about it right now. There are a couple of complications that can accompany Cushing's but they are not the norm so don't even think about things like that right now.

    Can you tell us if you are seeing any of these signs? -

    The most common Cushing's signs (symptoms) include:
    increased/excessive water consumption (polydipsia)
    increased/excessive urination (polyuria)
    urinary accidents in previously housetrained dogs
    increased/excessive appetite (polyphagia)
    appearance of food stealing/guarding, begging, trash dumping, etc.
    sagging, bloated, pot-bellied appearance
    weight gain or its appearance, due to fat redistribution
    loss of muscle mass, giving the appearance of weight loss
    bony, skull-like appearance of head
    exercise intolerance, lethargy, general or hind-leg weakness
    new reluctance to jump on furniture or people
    excess panting, seeking cool surfaces to rest on
    symmetrically thinning hair or baldness (alopecia) on torso
    other coat changes like dullness, dryness
    slow regrowth of hair after clipping
    thin, wrinkled, fragile, and/or darkly pigmented skin
    easily damaged/bruised skin that heals slowly
    hard, calcified lumps in the skin (calcinosis cutis)
    susceptibility to infections (especially skin and urinary)
    diabetes, pancreatitis, seizures

    Since he is new to your life it may be difficult to know if there are actual "increases" but for water a healthy pup will drink about 1 oz of water for every pound of body weight. So a 10 lb dog would drink around 10 oz of water a day. Excessive appetite is easy to recognize - a cush pup is hungry 24/7; they always feel like they are literally starving and will wolf down their meal then immediately start searching and begging for more. If your baby is not house trained that will be a tough one but a cush pup sometimes doesn't even have time to hike his leg - it just happens.

    If the shelter gave you any paper work showing the tests they did that would help as well. If they don't show the actual results call them and ask if you can get those results then share them here with us. In your shoes, however, I would want his own vet to do the testing, keeping in mind he is going to be a bit stressed from the changes in his life plus the heart worms. I would wait until those worms were gone then do the cush testing.

    To help you educate yourself, which is the most critical factor in Cushing's, read the threads on the forum and ask any questions that reading prompts. In addition here is a link to our Helpful Resource section where you will find solid information about this disease from testing to treating.

    https://www.k9cushings.com/forum/for...Cushing-s-Dogs

    I am sure others will be along soon to chat with you as well. We are very glad you found us and I want you to know we will do all we can to help you on this journey. Take a deep breath and try not to worry overly much. There are many worse things to deal with than Cushing's - trust me; I work with special needs and hospice dogs in rescue and many times have wished those babies only had to deal with Cushing's.

    Hugs,
    Leslie
    "May you know that absence is full of tender presence and that nothing is ever lost or forgotten." John O'Donahue, "Eternal Echoes"

    Death is not a changing of worlds as most imagine, as much as the walls of this world infinitely expanding.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Introduction- My new doggie has Cushing's :-(

    Hi Leslie,

    It is a relief to know that I've got a great resource in the forums. I really appreciate you pointing out some of the help I can receive here. I am so happy to have my pup, Rocky, with me. I've only had him since Friday, so I don't know the answers to many of those questions. It took a TON of production to get him from Texas to me out here in DC... and at the end of the day, I just put him on a plane. It was the only way! But I've been watching him very carefully and had a lot of time to look him over and observe his behavior. This is what I've observed from your list:


    The most common Cushing's signs (symptoms) include:
    • increased/excessive water consumption (polydipsia)- DRINKS TONS OF WATER. I don't know how much to allot him each day. I talked to the lady that helped me coordinate moving him from Texas, and she recommended stopping the water at 9 pm. I get up around 3 am, and I put him outside right away so he can get all the pee out first thing!

    • increased/excessive urination (polyuria)- Tons. It's a lot more urine than I've seen with my current dog. And my current dog can hold her pee for much longer periods of time. I end up taking out Rocky (and my other dog now!) every 4- 5 hours. We had one accident since Friday.... I think we might have hit the 5 hour mark yesterday and he couldn't hold it. It was A LOT of urine.

    • urinary accidents in previously housetrained dogs- UNKNOWN

    • increased/excessive appetite (polyphagia)- None that I see. My other dog eats sparingly throughout the day, so I put Rocky's food out as well. He doesn't compete with my other dog for food, and he leaves food in his bowl and comes back throughout the day.

    • appearance of food stealing/guarding, begging, trash dumping, etc.- None that I see. I see him occasionally going over to the garbage, but so does my other dog... they know there's foodstuff in there, but we keep the lids firmly shut, and the garbages are a little bigger than what they can handle.

    • sagging, bloated, pot-bellied appearance- Not really. I feel under his belly, and it seems a tiny bit fatty, but I keep my other dog in like tip top shape and run her ragged with ball playing and stuff.... so I'm used to seeing dogs in top shape. I wouldn't be surprised if Rocky was a little bigger, since I'm not sure if the previous owners gave him good, nutritious dog food or table scraps.

    • weight gain or its appearance, due to fat redistribution- Unknown

    • loss of muscle mass, giving the appearance of weight loss- Unknown

    • bony, skull-like appearance of head- Not that I can see. His head looks totally normal.

    • exercise intolerance, lethargy, general or hind-leg weakness- I have noticed that he seems a little "uncertain" on his hind legs, but that's just when he's going up and down the stairs. I don't think he's used to stairs, and the second day, I think he forgot he was on the stairs when he was begging for his treats and fell down the stairs. Since then, he's been a bit skittish of the stairs. I let him walk them, but sometimes, if he seems like he's having fear, I'll pick him up and carry him up and down the stairs. I can say when he's begging for his post-walk treat, or when he's trying to observe what's in the garbage, he'll get on his hind legs and balance there for a bit, so he may be ok with the hind legs for now.

    • new reluctance to jump on furniture or people- Not to jump on people, but he's a little slower to jump up on the sofa when it's time to put on his leash for walking.

    • excess panting, seeking cool surfaces to rest on- He does pant sometimes a bit, but it's usually very short episodes and seems to be happening less and less often

    • symmetrically thinning hair or baldness (alopecia) on torso- Unknown. Initially, the volunteers at the center where he was being held said he came in with matted hair, so they had to cut his hair quite a bit. They said they tried to leave as much as they could. I'll keep my eyes open for that.

    • other coat changes like dullness, dryness- No dryness in his coat.

    • slow regrowth of hair after clipping- Unknown. I've asked the shelter if they have before pictures so I can see how long his hair normally is, but I'll ask again so I can see if there's a difference (I think he was at the shelter for a few weeks before being transferred to a farm when transitioning to me.

    • thin, wrinkled, fragile, and/or darkly pigmented skin- I've seen some pigmentation on his tummy

    • easily damaged/bruised skin that heals slowly- I haven't noticed that.


    • hard, calcified lumps in the skin (calcinosis cutis)- No, but the volunteer said he had some calcification in his ears.

    • susceptibility to infections (especially skin and urinary)- haven't noticed. I haven't seen any blood in his stool or anything. I spend time petting him and just checking him in general while he's in a pretty chill state, and I haven't seen any skin infections at all.

    • diabetes, pancreatitis, seizures- Clutching my pearls! I haven't seen those at all.... lordy, lordy!

    I just looked over Rocky's medical notes. I hadn't realized the shelter put Rocky on death row! I'm so glad I was able to get him out of that hell hole. It did say he had the pot belly and the alopecia on his skin. It says he has increased ACTH. I can't really read the results well, but they summed it up- suspected borderline Cushing's. :-(

    Sometimes, he will hack... not a ton, though. I have seen him do it maybe three times since he arrived here. I'm not sure what that's about.

    They did a heart worm test on him before they sent him out. It says negative for heart worms but to retest, so I'll retest him sometime in the next couple of weeks as recommended. In the meantime, since there is a diagnosis, the notes say that since it's suspected Cushing's and to have my own vet retest, I may get insurance on Rocky and see if I can get through the wait period. If so, then I'll get him a much more comprehensive testing so I can definitively determine what's going on with Rocky's health.

    He's a sweet dog. The one thing that I find funny is that he is definitely a warm weather dog. DC winters aren't that cold (I'm from the midwest), but they're definitely colder than Dallas! He tends to shiver a lot, so I put him in my other dog's coat. It takes me about 20- 30 min to determine he's running on empty. Once he comes in and I get the coat off, I'll run him around a tiny bit to warm him up. If he seems like he's still shivering, I'll just hold him nice and firm to get some body heat on him. That works very well as all.

    That's about all I can think of. One question- once the pills get Cushing's under control, does the excessive peeing get under control as well? And he's about 11 pounds, so he should be limited to about 11 ounces of water per day?

    Thanks!

    Koffee

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Introduction- My new doggie has Cushing's :-(

    Oh- he also smacks his lips a lot. Is that common, or is my dog just.... special when it comes to lick smacking? I also have found that my other dog loves the smell (and taste) of Rocky's butthole. Ummmm.... is there something special going on with Rocky's poop (or poop-hole)?



    Thanks!

    Koffee
    Last edited by koffeebrown; 12-26-2018 at 01:33 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Introduction- My new doggie has Cushing's :-(

    Thank you so much for the additional info, Koffee! I do see a few things that are consistent with Cushing's but many that are not. He could be in the early stages and if so he won't display as many signs yet and the things you are seeing could simply be from the stresses of being in the shelter plus all the changes. Cortisol, the enemy in Cushing's, will rise naturally in response to any stressor, internal or external. The good thing about Cushing's is that it is a very slowly progressing condition typically taking years to do any irreparable damage so it would seem you have time to let him settle in before pursuing any cush testing.

    As for the water - do NOT restrict water just in case. Cush pups don't pee a lot because they drink a lot - it is just the opposite. They drink a lot to keep themselves hydrated because they ARE going to pee no matter how much water they get. Restricting water can quickly lead to dehydration and major issues so keep fresh water down at all times.

    Hugs
    Leslie
    "May you know that absence is full of tender presence and that nothing is ever lost or forgotten." John O'Donahue, "Eternal Echoes"

    Death is not a changing of worlds as most imagine, as much as the walls of this world infinitely expanding.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Introduction- My new doggie has Cushing's :-(

    Quote Originally Posted by Squirt's Mom View Post
    Thank you so much for the additional info, Koffee! I do see a few things that are consistent with Cushing's but many that are not. He could be in the early stages and if so he won't display as many signs yet and the things you are seeing could simply be from the stresses of being in the shelter plus all the changes. Cortisol, the enemy in Cushing's, will rise naturally in response to any stressor, internal or external. The good thing about Cushing's is that it is a very slowly progressing condition typically taking years to do any irreparable damage so it would seem you have time to let him settle in before pursuing any cush testing.

    As for the water - do NOT restrict water just in case. Cush pups don't pee a lot because they drink a lot - it is just the opposite. They drink a lot to keep themselves hydrated because they ARE going to pee no matter how much water they get. Restricting water can quickly lead to dehydration and major issues so keep fresh water down at all times.

    Hugs
    Leslie
    Ok, will do. I do keep his water fresh. I figured if water was important for Cush dogs, then I should refresh it every time I feel it gets a little cloudy from drinking after eating and stuff like that. I'll keep the water out as well, but I think I may have to put him in a diaper between walks. The woman at the shelter mailed me a belly belt and it seems to work wonders. It's like the belt teaches him how to hold it in.

    I will keep his stresses down to the minimum. I guess it's lots of belly rubs and bedtime hugs from now on!

    Thanks for the additional information!

  7. #7
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    Default Re-testing my new pup for Cushings and correct dosage of Vetoryl

    Hello all,

    After reading through this forum for the entire day, I'm wondering if the vet from the kill shelter made a correct diagnosis. I don't mean to go against a vet, but I have a terrific vet that I take my other dog to, and I wanted to wipe the slate clean and bring my new dog in for testing. So I'm thinking about taking him off the Vetoryl, since the vet where I got him said he had "borderline Cushings", and when the Vetoryl has cleared his bloodstream, I'll immediately bring him in for a full array of testing for Cushings, as well as other illnesses that seem to have the same symptoms. I was going to make the appointment, and I wondered how long it would take for the Vetoryl to clear from his blood stream before I bring him in for full blood workup? I know this seems extreme, but I really want my dog to have the most accurate diagnosis of what's wrong with him from a vet that I trust.

    So, my doggie is about 12 pounds and takes a 10 mg pill once per day. We actually had a gap time of 4 days where he wasn't able to take it when he was being transported from Dallas to DC, but I restarted him on it for the last two days. Now, I'm thinking I might wean him off it and then take him in once it's out of his system. I would feel better knowing I have a more definitive diagnosis.

    Help!

    Koffee

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Re-testing my new pup for Cushings and correct dosage of Vetoryl

    Hello Koffee, and welcome from me, too! I apologize that I have only a moment to write, but I wanted to explain that I’ve added your newest question to your original thread. It’s easier for us to offer our thoughts and suggestions when all the info/questions about a dog are consolidated in a single thread. So once again, welcome, and I’ll try to get back to write more tomorrow.

    Marianne

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Re-testing my new pup for Cushings and correct dosage of Vetoryl

    Hi Koffee and welcome to you and your new precious bundle of joy. Isn't it funny how we connect so strongly with a dog simply by looking at a picture? Leslie can tell you all about those long distance love affairs. LOL God bless both of you for going above and beyond to get those pups home and in your arms.

    Two things stood out in my mind as I read through your answers to Leslie's questions. First one is your boy had severe heartworms and if he was only in the shelter for two weeks, I don't think that is near enough time to see that serious condition resolved before testing for cushing's. I have no idea what borderline cushing's would be without seeing the actual test results; however, because he was likely sick when testing was done, the results would be exaggerated due to the stress of heartworms. That would certainly raise my suspicions about the accuracy of the diagnosis. The second thing that stood out to me is the apparent intolerance to cold, which is very common in dogs with low thyroid function. It is not common in cushing's as cushingoid dogs are intolerant to heat. Is there any way you can reach out to whomever you adopted Rocky from and ask them to send you all of Rocky's medical records? This is not an unreasonable request as you adopted a dog a special needs dog and they should be happy to comply. They may make your life difficult and say no but they should at least provide you with the name and contact information for the vet who provided Rocky's care while at the shelter so that you or your vet can request copies. I think your decision to have Rocky seen by your vet is an excellent one. Like you, I have concerns that treatment may have been prescribed based on one borderline test result. I've been active in small senior and special needs rescue for most of my adult life. I've had extensive experience with shelter vets and without exception, they knew just enough about cushing's to be dangerous so that red flag is flying high right now.

    There is no need to wean Rocky off of Vetoryl. This drug has a very short half life and starts to wear off quite quickly. If you stop dosing today, you can book your vet appointment for any time. Your vet will likely want to run a complete senior screening which includes a blood chemistry, cbc and urinalysis and culture. Rocky should be fasted for these tests so confirm this with your vet before the appointment. I'm sure glad you found us and we'll do our best to answer any questions you may have now and in the future.

    Glynda

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Re-testing my new pup for Cushings and correct dosage of Vetoryl

    Quote Originally Posted by lulusmom View Post
    Hi Koffee and welcome to you and your new precious bundle of joy. Isn't it funny how we connect so strongly with a dog simply by looking at a picture? Leslie can tell you all about those long distance love affairs. LOL God bless both of you for going above and beyond to get those pups home and in your arms.

    Two things stood out in my mind as I read through your answers to Leslie's questions. First one is your boy had severe heartworms and if he was only in the shelter for two weeks, I don't think that is near enough time to see that serious condition resolved before testing for cushing's. I have no idea what borderline cushing's would be without seeing the actual test results; however, because he was likely sick when testing was done, the results would be exaggerated due to the stress of heartworms. That would certainly raise my suspicions about the accuracy of the diagnosis. The second thing that stood out to me is the apparent intolerance to cold, which is very common in dogs with low thyroid function. It is not common in cushing's as cushingoid dogs are intolerant to heat. Is there any way you can reach out to whomever you adopted Rocky from and ask them to send you all of Rocky's medical records? This is not an unreasonable request as you adopted a dog a special needs dog and they should be happy to comply. They may make your life difficult and say no but they should at least provide you with the name and contact information for the vet who provided Rocky's care while at the shelter so that you or your vet can request copies. I think your decision to have Rocky seen by your vet is an excellent one. Like you, I have concerns that treatment may have been prescribed based on one borderline test result. I've been active in small senior and special needs rescue for most of my adult life. I've had extensive experience with shelter vets and without exception, they knew just enough about cushing's to be dangerous so that red flag is flying high right now.

    There is no need to wean Rocky off of Vetoryl. This drug has a very short half life and starts to wear off quite quickly. If you stop dosing today, you can book your vet appointment for any time. Your vet will likely want to run a complete senior screening which includes a blood chemistry, cbc and urinalysis and culture. Rocky should be fasted for these tests so confirm this with your vet before the appointment. I'm sure glad you found us and we'll do our best to answer any questions you may have now and in the future.

    Glynda
    Hi Glynda,

    Thanks for the thanks and the thoughts. I actually was thinking something along those lines as well. I spoke to the volunteer that spotted Rocky in the shelter. She said that Rocky was in the shelter for at least three weeks and then they put him on death row. When they moved Rocky from the shelter to the final tent, she found him shivering in a cage, matted hair, no heat, no blankets or anything to lie on, and a severe case of heartworms. The shelter wouldn't have bothered to act had she not put an ad out looking for someone to adopt him and I hadn't stepped forward and filled out the adoption papers and paid the shelter. I'm sure that's a lot of stress on a dog. God knows how long he had heartworms. *shudder* I believe that third week they started to deal with the heartworms and then during an examination of his test results, came across this Cushing's.

    I also have observed Rocky again, just to be sure about the cold/heat thing, which is something I also read about. He definitely gets cold very quickly. I thought he was nervous, but nope- he's freezing. When I take him out for a walk, I now put a bomber jacket on him. He's still shivering. It gets so bad that I have to pick him up and hold him and then blow inside his jacket to generate heat. Then he's good to go for another few minutes. I also gave him a dog bed. He snagged a towel and sleeps with the towel all the time. If he wants more heat, he will sit at my legs at my desk. I have a heater that radiates heat and he will get as close to it as possible and then go to sleep. Weird.

    I'll keep him on his meds for now and then take him off a couple of days before his appointment. I hope if they do some comprehensive testing on him, they'll be able to figure out what's going on, once and for all. But---- thanks for your advice and observations as well!

    Koffee

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